What Do Employees Want?

Making simple steps towards understanding what employees value most can create a huge impact on recruiting and retention in your organization.
Jennifer Dowd, Kronos | June 24, 2019 AT 9:00 AM
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As employee experience and engagement play a more prominent role in the recruitment and retention of the public sector workforce, it helps employers to know what employees want. This isn’t just about compensation. It’s about the values that they appreciate from their employer. In an article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 5 Generations + 7 Values = Endless Opportunities, the author created a list of values that matter most to employees regardless of generation.

Feeling respected

Treat people the way you want to be treated. How many times did our parents and teachers say this to us growing up? In a recent Harvard Business Review article, it indicates that employees value two types of respect. Owed respect and earned respect. Owed respect is equal for everyone and is about treating others as you want to be treated. Earned respect is about recognizing employees who display desired qualities or behaviors. It’s about being valued for doing good work. Employees who say they feel respected are more satisfied with their jobs and more grateful for—and loyal to—their organizations.

Being listened to

A common source of frustration in the workplace (and personal relationships as well). It plays a supporting role to being respected. Managers who have this down recognize employees as contributors to ideas and an important part of the organization’s success and growth. Managers and leaders who failed at this are faced with a less engaged employee. In a recent SHRM poll of professional workers, 64% of the 675 workers polled, agreed that “leaders making decisions without seeking input,” was their biggest problem. This has a big impact on morale.

Having opportunities for mentoring

Mentoring has tremendous benefits for both the employee and the employer. The organization I work for (Kronos) just launched an enhanced mentoring program for us. There was already a program in place, but this gave our HR team an opportunity to re-introduce it with a few tweaks. It consists of two tracks. One called Flash Mentoring which is a one-time meeting. The other is Ongoing Mentoring, a more formalized 90-day program. There are different models out there and putting a formal process together sends a message to your employees that you care about their careers.

Understanding the big picture

Only 47% of workers are able to make the connection between their day-to-day duties and how they impact the organization according to a survey from the Robert Half Management Resources survey. That means more than half the workforce doesn’t have a deep connection to their organization’s goals and more importantly how they add value. Managers may assume their employees know this or simply don’t have to know this detail. However, that connection between their contributions and bottom line, especially in public service, can provide a deep-rooted experience that they’ll want to continue on with.

Receiving effective communication

Employees have different ways of consuming information. For those of you familiar with a DiSC Assessment or Profile, I recently went through this and found out I am a “C” which means I’m very detail oriented. I want my information and I want to know exactly what you need from me, so I can deliver it to your expectations. That’s me. In fact, my two direct reports are opposite profiles. Some people prefer more opportunity to connect personally and then get into details. Various methods for communicating also come into play. Some like email, some like face-to-face. The reality is, you can’t please everyone, but managers can make a conscious effort to understand their employee’s communication style to help set them up for success.

Receiving positive feedback

A Gallup survey found that 67% of employees whose managers focused on their strengths were fully engaged in their work, as compared to only 31% of employees whose managers focused on their weaknesses. You don’t need an expert to come in and tell you that positive feedback is good for employee morale. But what many organizations lose sight of is the frequency in which they happen and leveraging the right moments to make a more meaningful impact to the receiver. Successful managers know that throughout a project rather than at the end or in front of peers rather than in a one-off conversation will go much further.

Experiencing an exchange of ideas

Who doesn’t love a good brainstorming session? Alright, maybe it’s not always a magical experience, but I generally walk away with some good ideas or at least feeling like I contributed to the cause. I’m constantly encouraging my team to bring new ideas to our team meetings and we even dedicate the last 30 minutes for brainstorming based on something they need help with or trying to pitch a new idea. I also advise them to start their own brainstorming sessions with peers who have similar goals and deliverables. Great ideas should be shared and repurposed. It’s empowering to have your idea used by another group even if you didn’t think it was transferrable. Ideas spawn from other ideas. Managers have the power to encourage this type of behavior and should exercise it as often as possible.

If you are delivering on these values, employees will want to stay, and outside talent will want to join your organization, right? It’s not that simple, but it’s a good start. Make a conscious effort to work with managers and leaders to find opportunities to enhance the experience of their direct reports. Making simple steps towards understanding what employees value most can create a huge impact on recruiting and retention in your organization.